KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 12 – The Himpunan Kebangkitan Rakyat rally in the capital city ended this evening with a pledge by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim that a Pakatan Rakyat (PR) federal government will have zero tolerance for corruption or any attempt to plunder the people’s wealth.
Anwar, who has said that the coming 13th general election will be his last shot at power, told the sea of people gathered at and around the iconic Stadium Merdeka that if the government stopped stealing from its own citizens, the country could finally prosper.
“If we have to paddle on our own, we shall do so with our very own hands, our fingers. We will not compromise when it comes to corruption and robbing the people.
“Ladies and gentlemen, to me, this is most crucial. If we can control it, the people’s lives can change and the welfare and livelihood of Malaysians nationwide, from Perlis to Sabah, up to Putrajaya, will be improved,” he said.
Anwar was the last to speak at today’s mammoth gathering, which is possibly the largest mass gathering the nation has seen in years.
Police had estimated the crowd inside the stadium at 80,000 but later retracted it, saying it was a “technical mistake”. Thousands others crowded outside the stadium and several roads ringing the area.
The PR de facto leader did not mince his words as he addressed the excited sea of rally participants who were all decked in a myriad of colours to represent their respective causes.
He told them that he “understands” their daily suffering and has seen it for himself, lamenting against what he labelled as mismanagement by the current Barisan Nasional (BN) administration.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I have seen it for myself, the spirit of the people, and I can feel it, the suffering of the people.. I know of your anger.
“Therefore, we in PR, can make a pledge with the purest of hearts, that under our rule, we will not permit stealing from the people or corruption,” he said.
The Himpunan Kebangkitan Rakyat (People’s Uprising Rally) was organised by both political leaders from PR and non-partisan members of various civil society groups as a final showcase of election issues before the 13th general election is called by June.
DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng told the crowd that BN was wrong in saying that only the Malays could fight for the Malays, Chinese for the Chinese and Indians for Indians.
“Whether we are Malays, Chinese, Indians, Ibans or Kadazans, we can all take care of each other,” he said.
Lim, who is also the Penang chief minister, said that Malaysia’s independence was proclaimed in Stadium Merdeka on August 31, 1957.
“We need a new independence, not from colonial rule, but from poverty. We promise to free Malaysia from corruption. We want to free Malaysia from abuse of power. We don’t want a repeat of (Ahmad) Sarbaini (Mohamed), (A.) Kugan and Teoh Beng Hock,” he said, referring to the custodial deaths of the three men.
PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang said that PR’s clean governance was evident in Selangor, Penang, Kedah and Kelantan.
“The people must be brave... let us declare a second independence,” he said.
“Ubah sekarang (Change now),” shouted Abdul Hadi, as the crowd cried out “Allahu Akhbar.”
The politicians’ speeches were frequently interrupted with cheers, applause and the sounding of air horns from the massive crowd.
PKR secretary-general Datuk Saifuddin Nasution Ismail led the participants in reading a pledge to claim the following: a free and fair election; the restoration of Felda’s reputation; Sabah and Sarawak to be given the same status as peninsular Malaysia; 20 per cent oil royalties to petroleum-producing states; to raise the professionalism of civil servants like teachers and the security forces; a clean environment; to uphold Bahasa Malaysia, protect native languages and improve the English language; to release all political prisoners immediately, to defend traditional villages and places of heritage; and a better life for women.
Anwar ended his speech by shouting “Merdeka” repeatedly and pumping the air with his fist, while the crowd shouted “Rakyat” in response.
The historic stadium was packed with people filling the bleachers and the field.
They were predominantly Malay dressed mostly in canary yellow and lime green, waving PAS, PKR, and DAP flags, as well as the Malaysian, Sabah, Sarawak, Penang and Selangor flags.
Yellow signified electoral reforms, green for environmental causes, bright red for pro-oil royalty groups, orange for the anti-Felda Global Venture Holdings (FGVH) listing movement, and purple for women’s rights.